Strategic Grantmaking


Based in Los Angeles, ECMC Foundation is a nationally focused foundation whose mission is to inspire and facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes — especially among underserved populations—through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis, which together work to help students succeed.

The Foundation makes investments in two focus areas*: College Success and Career Readiness; and uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to fund both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with its grantees, partners and peers, ECMC Foundation's vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential.

The funding information on this page is for traditional grants in the Foundation's two focus areas.

  • College Success—The College Success portfolio is focused on increasing the number of college students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, including low-income and first-generation populations, who pursue and attain bachelor's degrees. This portfolio considers programs and initiatives that work with currently enrolled college students to promote two-year transfer and bachelor degree completion. We seek innovative programs in both direct service models as well as overarching systemic reform initiatives.

  • Career Readiness—The Career Readiness portfolio is committed to connecting adults with limited or no education beyond high school to career pathways that allow for economic mobility and a family-sustaining wage. This portfolio considers high-quality, industry-informed postsecondary education programs up to the associate level as the primary mechanism to meet its goals. Our funding builds the capacity of institutions providing or supporting career and technical education; contributes research to improve the field and promote support for career readiness programs; and develops scalable postsecondary program models that incorporate wraparound services, implement a student-centered educational approach, and offer accredited, industry-informed career pathways.

Grant funding varies based on program need and relevance. For the Foundation's giving level history, please visit our Grantee Partners page.


Eligibility for ECMC Foundation funding is determined by the following criteria:

  • Any organization applying for ECMC Foundation funds must provide tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization currently recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a public charity described in sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1), (2), or (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as amended.

  • Award of a grant is contingent upon the applying organization's tax-exempt status, under sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a) of the Code, having not changed since the issuance of the IRS determination letter which was provided to ECMC Foundation, and that there is no issue presently pending before any office of the IRS that could result in any proposed changes to the organization's tax-exempt status under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a) of the Code.

  • Multi-year grants will be considered. Note, however, ECMC Foundation expects tangible outcomes from grantees. The Foundation staff monitors the programmatic objectives outlined in each grant through regular communication and site visits. A formal grant report must be submitted each year until the program is complete.

  • ECMC Foundation grants are not awarded for endowment funds, political activities and lobbying, or fundraising activities. Also, please note, we do not make grants for scholarship programs or capital campaigns.

  • ECMC Foundation only makes grants in the United States, but otherwise does not have geographic limitations.

  • All approved funding is contingent upon compliance with ECMC Foundation policy. In addition, prior ECMC Foundation funding does not guarantee continued funding, either in part (i.e., particular line items) or in whole (i.e., the total amount requested).

For more information, download our How to Apply for a Grant Guide.


Letters of Inquiry

ECMC Foundation accepts Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) on a rolling basis. All LOIs must be submitted through our online system. Please note, we are no longer accepting paper copies or electronic copies by email.

LOIs must provide the following:

  • An overview of your organization, its purpose, relevant history and data on effectiveness

  • A brief summary of the activities for which you are requesting support, including an outline of your objectives, and anticipated outcomes and implications

  • The approximate start date and duration of the proposed activities

  • The total amount of funding needed, the amount requested from ECMC Foundation, and information about other sources of support, both assured and requested

  • Contact information and EIN for the organization

Formal Proposals

LOIs that most closely reflect ECMC Foundation's program priorities will be invited to submit a full grant proposal. Proposals are accepted upon request only. A request for a proposal should not be interpreted as an indication of likely support.

Foundation staff may request additional information in writing from applicants and may request to meet with applicants, either virtually or in person.

Review Process

The ECMC Foundation Board of Directors meets four times a year to consider grant proposals. Please be aware that the full grant application process—from first contact to Board approval—can take several months. We ask grant candidates to be mindful of this in their application process and provide themselves with sufficient time.

Submit a Letter of Inquiry